Can Dogs Outgrow Hip Dysplasia?

That is a tricky question, so not necessarily. Once a hip joint has formed abnormally it’s always going to be abnormal. However, sometimes dogs who are very young can have severe pain because their hip joint actually pops out of joint. It subluxates, which can be extraordinarily painful and necessitate an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Those dogs, sometimes their hip joints can scar down enough to keep the hip joint from popping out again. In that case you wouldn’t see another outbreak of pain, yelping, limping, that sort of thing. However, that hip joint is still abnormal and it’s going to wear abnormally on cartilage and it’s still going to progress, at some point, to developing osteoarthritis, which would be the next stage of the disease.

So sometimes what we see is we’ll see symptoms of hip dysplasia in puppies and we’ll diagnose them with hip dysplasia and then we won’t see them for several years, because the joint has scarred itself down, there’s not any other problems, until we see that dog in about middle age, in which case they start to show some signs associated with arthritis in the hip joint. Sometimes it scars down and they don’t ever have signs or symptoms ever again. Every dog is an individual.

However, most of the time they will go on to develop some arthritis, even if the pet owner doesn’t notice the signs, because sometimes the signs of pain in dogs can be very subtle and very different than what humans expect pain to look like. In which case if your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, it’s always worth it to get a follow-up X-ray and a physical exam with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog’s doing okay.

Dr. Sarah Wooten

A lifelong dog lover, Dr. Wooten is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with 16 years experience in small animal general practice.

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